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Fact Check: Did Florida Really Pass New York in COVID Deaths?

The widely circulated figure of 80,000 deaths includes imprecise data. Age-adjusted figures reveal Florida is still trailing New York in alleged COVID deaths.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Media outlets across the state pounced on new death count figures from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) that showed 80,000 COVID deaths in the state since March 1, 2020. Others reported Florida has passed New York in COVID deaths. However, both claims rely upon surveillance data that is imprecise because it includes people who did not die as a result of contracting the virus.

The DOH report notes “Case fatality rate is the number of deaths among cases.” In other words, the total includes anyone who died with COVID, not necessarily from COVID. One bizarre example of this distinction is the Florida man who died in a motorcycle crash and was counted as a COVID-19 death.

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) lists three criteria for identifying “COVID-19 associated deaths” including: “The death occurred within (and including) 30 days of specimen collection for the confirmatory laboratory test used to define the case and was due to natural causes (e.g., the Manner of Death is coded as “natural” on the death certificate).” But this does not establish a clear causal link between the virus and fatalities.


Florida media outlets were not the only ones to report misleading data related to the state’s COVID deaths. On September 9, Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, Editor-in-Chief for Blood Cancer Journal, tweeted out a graphic illustrating that Florida had surpassed New York for “Cumulative deaths attributed to COVID-19.”

In a response to Rajkumar, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, asked: “How is it that an editor of a medical journal still does not understand the concept of ‘age adjustment’ when comparing states on covid mortality? It's been 2.5 years. More than enough time for people like him to understand the thousand-fold difference in mortality risk by age.”

The median age in Florida is more than three years higher than New York. When adjusted for age, Florida’s death per 100,000 is 293, while New York’s is 367, according to CDC vital stats data pulled on September 14. From a national perspective, Florida’s rate places the Sunshine State at 20th fewest deaths and New York’s ranking is 35th among all 50 states.


Although COVID cases have been read on 24-hour news networks like baseball scores every day for the past two and a half years, the efficacy of the testing has garnered far less media attention. But it’s likely that there has been some sort of fraud involved in the testing process.

For example, back in 2020, Sarasota resident Mindy Clark told ABC 7 that she was informed that she tested positive for COVID despite never getting swabbed. Clark got in line at a testing site, but went home before the test was administered.

In a strange application of reverse logic, Clark was told that she had to prove to the testing site that she wasn’t positive. The station reported many other residents had similar experiences.

Hospitals also had financial incentives to report deaths as COVID cases. Dr. Scott Jensen, a Minnesota state senator, told Fox News in 2020 that Medicare paid hospitals $13,000 for COVID-19 patients and $39,000 for patients placed on ventilators.


While the press remains committed to fomenting COVID hysteria, Floridians are showing signs of indifference. On Monday, Orlando Sentinel reported that the issue of COVID-19 is not impacting voters as much as other issues. It is worth noting that, so far in 2022, the fatality rate in Florida is 0.6% or less for those under 65, and 0.2% or lower for those under 60, according to the state’s surveillance data.

“For most voters, it’s just not high on the priority list,” Aubrey Jewett, Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida, told the paper. “If you ask voters, ‘What’s your top five issues?’ maybe you get number five, but it’s just not top-of-mind awareness. Many voters have moved past that issue.”